Sometime in early 2003 I gave a presentation to the DWP where I talked a lot about my usual topic of too many government websites. I’d taken a look at DWP sites in the run up to the conference and become very confused by all the different sites (all with different branding, different layouts, over-lapping information and so on) – this wasn’t an uncommon problem then, either in the UK or globally, and, whilst I don’t look too often, I suspect it’s still pretty common.
This is one of the slides I put up:
I played around with the “I am a” and “I want to be a” concept – maybe people come to websites as unemployed and want to be employed, maybe they come as young unmarried folks and want to know what happens when you get married, maybe they come as employed and want to know what happens when they’re retired. I pictured it as a set of dropdown lists that you could select from. There would have been all sorts of problems implementing it that way, but the essence of the point was that people come to a site wearing one hat but want to know about something else – and the path from one to the other might be what they’re interested in – and we’d need to think hard about how to present that in a simple way, and it might need some data (that we’d need to keep hold of to improve the experience next time)
I hadn’t seen any implementation of this at any level, until today when I happened on this:
It’s on the Civil Service’s own website and it makes perfect sense. You may visit because you’re a civil servant and you want the latest news, or you may want a job – in which case, sadly, they send you to a new site built with a different engine, with a different layout, a different search engine etc.
Plainly they weren’t thinking what I was thinking, but nonetheless, it raised a wry smile this morning amidst the gloom.